ANA Recognizes Emergency Nursing as Specialty Practice

The American Nurses Association (ANA) has formally recognized emergency nursing as a specialty practice.

Emergency nursing is the care of individuals across the lifespan with perceived or actual physical or emotional alterations of health that are undiagnosed or require further interventions. Emergency nursing care is episodic, primary, typically short-term, and occurs in a variety of settings.

ANA also approved the Emergency Nursing Association’s (ENA) scope of practice statement and acknowledged the standards of practice for emergency nursing. These documents, written by the ENA, form the foundation of emergency nursing and outline the expectations of the professional role within which emergency nurses must practice.

“The criteria for attaining specialty status are rigorous, so the recognition of emergency nursing as a specialty is a significant achievement,” said ANA President Karen Daley, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN. “ANA’s role in this process is to protect patients by ensuring high quality in nursing practice and performance. This recognition tells the public that emergency nurses are dedicated to meeting high standards of care and patient safety.”

ENA President AnnMarie Papa, DNP, RN, CEN, NE-BC, FAEN, said the recognition acknowledges the unique aspects of emergency nursing, and gives emergency nurses a stronger voice in health care policy debates.

“It allows other health professionals and health care consumers to have a clear understanding of the range of emergency nursing practice and gives a better understanding of the roles emergency nurses fill,” Papa said.

Papa added that the designation establishes a common language and understanding within the emergency care field, strengthens the case for ongoing research to apply best practices at stretcher-side, and reinforces “the need of the emergency nurse to embrace career advancement in leadership, education and advanced practice nursing.”

By consensus of specialty nursing groups, ANA became the neutral reviewing body of scope of practice statements and standards of practice for nursing specialties in the late 1990s. Specialty nursing practices must meet certain criteria to gain recognition, a review process intended to ensure consistency in nursing practice.

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